tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 19, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT
he could not have predicted how the terrorist threat would evolve buried at this time congress was completely focused on preventing another large-scale attack on u.s. soil. in 2001 we understood al qaeda to be a centralized organization no thought was even to the prospect that al qaeda would franchise terrorism and inspire satellite groups in the arabian peninsula and africa to bury the prospect and then attack would be carried out by a lone wolf actor with no direct training support from al qaeda and a
barely into discussion. we were thinking that terrorist groups were focused on taking human lives. we did not predict that in the decade after the september 11th state actors or terrorist groups would try to and devastate our economy and steal valuable intellectual property by targetting are cyber infrastructure and in. finally, we could not have imagined that on the eve of the 13th anniversary 9/11 another american president would come before the american people to make the case for defeating and destroying a terrorist organization faugh -- indeed the is not -- the threat from isil is legitimate and warrants attention. that said, the situation on the ground and syria is fluid and complex. defeating in destroying isil is the context, no easy task.
isil. we need to remain vigilant and improve put crudeness and resilience at home. last month's arrest and illustrates my longstanding view that me what -- we must reject this specific ethnic or been a proponent profiles to. a violent terrorism has no race, ethnicity, religion, or culture, and there is no single profile or pathway for individuals who come to embrace violent extremism. also, since september 11 state and local law enforcement have received grant funding for to. we saw the value of this grant
funding after the bombing last year. as the police wore protective gear and stabilize the situation. more recently there was an example of what i believe to be an improper use of federal equipment and resources in ferguson, missouri and tighter control of how federal homeland security law enforcement resources are used by state and local partners is one area that needs to be improved. another area that is the perennial challenge to its permission sharing with state and local law-enforcement become even diffusion centers 18years after september 11th. we still hear that information sharing can be improved. from isil, al qaeda, and actors and other terrorist organizations is there way to an optimal relationship between federal, state, and local
partners. thirteen years since september september 11th as shown us that we cannot have a myopic or narrow view of the terrorist threats that we face. it is my hope that today we engage in a productive dialogue about the variety of threats to our nation. thank you and i yield back. >> i think the ranking member. opening statements may be submitted for the record. we are pleased to have here to a distinguished panel of witnesses before us. first, secretary jay johnson sworn in september 23rd, 2013. the fourth secretary of the department of homeland security. prior to joining secretary he served as counsel for the secretary of defense freeze part of the senior management team and led more than six dozen military and civilian lives across the department. he also oversaw the development of the legal aspects of many of our nation's counter-terrorism policies and spearheaded reforms
to military commissions at guantanamo bay in 2009. we are pleased to have for the first time director james coming he became the seventh director of the federal bureau of investigation in september 2013. director coming as a long history of service to the department including holding positions and u.s. attorney to the southern district of new york and assistant u.s. attorney for the eastern district of virginia where i first met him when he was conducting the project in exile to my gun violence reduction. i wanted thank you for your efforts on that. he also served as deputy attorney general at the justice department. one thank you so much for being here today. and last but not leaseback his last appearance before this
committee but i am sure would hear from him more times after this. director matthew olson has served as director of the national accounts of terrorism center since august of 2011. prior to joining he served as a general counsel for the national security agency where he was the chief legal officer for an essay in the principal legal adviser to the nsa director. a long record of service that includes time spent at the fbi, the department of justice, and the guantanamo review task force . again, we thank you for your service, sir. a full written statements of the witnesses will appear in the record. the chair now recognizes the secretary of homeland security for his opening statement. >> thank you, chairman, ranking member, the committee has mike prepared opening statement. i will not read it thank you for holding this hearing.
this is an important hearing and an important topic. this is just the type of public opportunity for congressional oversight of our counter-terrorism efforts that i welcome. this will not be my last appearance here, i'm sure, and it is certainly not my first. i want to say thank-you to my friends and colleagues to my left and right for joining me. director, me and i have known each other for 25 years. we were assistant u.s. attorneys together beginning in 1988-99. i have known him for a long time for six years now going back to late 2008 early 2009, i hired match to be general counsel of nsa along with general alexander . general counsel.
he did a terrific job. that's terrific colleague and the national security counter terrorism maloof. we will miss him very much. i mention my personal relationship with these two gentlemen to highlight the fact that homeland security, law enforcement have been my judgment in a very good working relationship. and we're committed to working together on these issues, committed to collegiality and encouraging that among our staff just yesterday. it met with other members. we do this often. the other point i would like to
make, obviously the most prominent terrorist organization . we have to stay focused so. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is still active. there are other threats emanating from that region and emanating from other parts of the world that we in homeland security and national security have to remain focused on. we have taken the number of steps in recent months to address aviation security for example the enhancements that the directive in july and august , addressing the issue of foreign fighters in and out of syria which i am sure we will discuss this morning as well as, for example, enhanced countering violent extremism efforts here at home through various storage
programs that we have including the pilot program that the attorney general announced earlier this week. so we are doing a number of things that we will be pleased to discuss with you at this morning's hearing. i look forward to your questions. thank you for allowing his hearing. >> the chair now recognizes the director for his testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as a pleasure to be before you for the first time and to be joined by my friends at the table. the american people will never fully know how much he has done to keep them safe, but a lot of people in this from no one will be forever grateful. as you know, i was gone from government for almost a decade. and so that the -- so i have a perspective. first we had taken the fight to the court al qaeda tumor in the
afghanistan pakistan region and trumped that any significant way the same time we experienced a metastasis of that cancer. the progeny of al qaeda had sprung up in an governor or lightly governed spaces in north africa, the gulf, the mediterranean in ways that are familiar this committee. the manifestation in syria and iraq is a huge example of that metastasis. coupled with the phenomenon of travelers seeking to go to those safe havens to get the experience of being a terrorist to make those connections is a way in which that change strikes me. i am concerned about the going and more concerned about the coming. there will be a terrorist diaspore and out of those areas, especially syria that we all wake up every day thinking and worrying about. the second way in which the terrorists intent is change has come with the way that the internet has changed all of our lives. it is no longer necessary to
meet somebody in al qaeda to be turning in desperation to conducted terrorist attack here in the united states. someone can do it in their pajamas in their basement. these are the home run violent extremists that we worry about who can get all of the poison and training that they need to kill americans and in a way that is hard for us to spot between the time they emerge from their basement and kill innocent americans. those other ways in which an seen the terrorism threat changed significantly since i was last in government. all of us to have connected our entire lives to the internet. where we bank, where our health care is, critical infrastructure , nation's secrets are. that is where bad people come to do harm across those dimensions. people want to hurt my kids to muslim identity, damage their infrastructure, steal our secrets, that is where they come to be effective all of us need to address those threats and cyberspace. and i think making sure the fbi
is positioned to the opposition coming equipped and trained to do that will dominate the years i have left in my term. >> it is an honor to be here to represent the people. believe i have the greatest job in the world, and it is a pleasure to be back in public service. thank you, sir. >> thank you. it is a pleasure to have you here today as well. i forgot that says we both have children on social media which can be challenging. the chair now recognizes director olson. >> thank you very much. members of the committee, thank you for inviting me this morning we often meet in closed classified sessions. this is an important of which entity for us to speak to the committee in an open session and to the american people about the threats that we face. i also want to -- and that say to you in the rest of the committee, as we appreciate the committee supported our efforts. i will spend a couple of minutes
talking about the threat and then take a moment to talk about how that fits into the broader terrorism landscape that we see. first, by every measure isil has emerged as an extremely dangerous organization and a chaotic part of the world, exploited the civil war in syria, taken the advantage of sectarian tensions in iraq. as establish sanctuaries in iraq and syria from where the group as the ability to plan and drain into the mass of fighters and weapons with little interference it's proven to be an effective fighting force. the battlefield strategy is effective and uses techniques from terrorist operations, hit and run tactics, paramilitary assaults demand and partly the group also views itself as the now leader of the global hottest movement operating the most sophisticated propaganda machine
of any terrorist organization. timely, high-quality media and uses social need to secure a widespread following. today we believe that isil has as many as 30,000 plus fighters and controls much of the crossroads of the middle east. and from this position they pose a multitasking threat to the united states. this past january the leader warned that the u.s. will soon be in direct conflict with the group, and there is little doubt that they view the united states as a strategic enemy. this threat is most acute in iraq. the group's safe haven and resources pose an immediate and direct threat to our presence there, particularly our embassy in baghdad and, of course, that includes the threat to the americans held hostage by isil, but that extends outside of the iraq to the west.
potential to use its shape -- safe haven and to plan and coordinate attacks in europe and potentially in the united states this became real earlier this year with the shooting in a brussels museum that killed four people by a isil fighter and with the arrest we saw an operative with access to several explosive devices buried at this point we had no information that isil is plotting an attack and said the u.s., but we do know, my colleagues have referred to thousands of foreign fighters have flocked to syria including more than 2,000 european and more than 100 americans. many of these fighters have joined the ranks of isil. we are concerned, of course, that these fires will gain experience, training, and eventually be turned to their own countries, battle hardened and radicalized. we are also concerned about the possibility of homegrown extremists becoming radicalized by information on the internet
and carrying out the limited self directed attacks here at home for which we would ask you face a potentially little or no warning. secondly, this phenomenon, the rise of isil exemplifies the threat in the transformation of the terrorism threat that we have seen over the past several years. seen this movement diversify and expand in the aftermath of the upheaval and chaos in 2010. so as my colleagues have mentioned, isil is just one of the groups that we are concerned about. in syria we have seen veteran fighters travel from pakistan. the official branches to remain active liaison on three occasions to take down an airplane bound for the united states. last year's boston marathon
bombing is a sobering reminder of the threat we face. terrorist networks have exploited the lack of governance and security. terrorist groups are now active in at least 11 insurgencies in the islamic world. the final point i will make on this is that identifying and disrupting these threats is increasingly challenging. there are tactics to overcome our differences, of foreign intelligence collection, looking for simpler, less sophisticated attacks on a smaller scale and are easier to pull off. and finally following the closure of the stolen nsa documents terrace are changing how they communicate, moving to more secure communication platforms, adopting encryption and avoid electronic communication altogether. receive this in our reporting and is a problem in many areas with limited human collection and depend on intercepted
communication to identify terrorists and this response. to counter this threat the men and women have to a remain vigilant around the clock. are dedicated to identifying these threats, degrade networks and disrupt plots of home and abroad and appreciate the committee's continued support in thank you for the opportunity in that it sort your questions. >> thank you, a director. i now recognize myself for questions. been we mentioned there is no specific and credible threat to the homeland, but having said that i don't think that have seen the threat environment any higher, particularly as it exists overseas with the spread of these so-called islamic state and the long bond. we have known about this threat for over your perry that he not think it was until the the headings of a journalist and now a british aid worker that it
really got the attention of the american people as to what kind of people we are dealing with. it has changed popular opinion in terms of driving policy to eliminate a threat that they do not want to see here in the united states for perpetrating those tax of brutal savagery. at the same time we have court al qaeda and what appears to be a competition with isis or isil to see who is the true heir apparent. that is a dangerous competition. the way i see it is what better way to do that an attack the west. coupled with 30,000 of these isis fighters, 15,000 foreign fighters to over 100 american and u.s. citizens, many with western passports. the ease of travel going back and forth obviously concerns homeland security officials and the intelligence community and
the fbi. and so first of want to congratulate the fbi on the half a dozen or so arrests that have been made and including two in my backyard as individuals traveling, wanting to travel to syria or those who may have come back who could have pulled out the terrorist attack induced on that. but at the same time i am concerned because you don't know what you don't know. and i don't know what our level of confidence is in terms of who was on the ground in the united states and syria that could employ a future attack of the united states. my question to the panel, we have seen the florida june, went back. he was on the radar pulling off a terrorist attack.
the profile that i am concerned about and want to stop. what assurances can you give this committee that we will be will stop that type of foreign travel or for a fighter from coming back as a trained geologist and killing americans. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is something that the people at this table and a thousand people we are upset and work on every single digits are use our human resources here and abroad and our technical resources to try and identify those who want to travel. our first mission is to identify those unblock them before i go. if we go to try to keep close tabs on them so that we know when they're headed back so that we can interdict them overseas which is our preference or lock them up and it arrived. very difficult, as you alluded to. we have an enormous, wonderful, free country with thousands of ways to get from the united states to syria and tens of thousands of americans to travel for legitimate purposes ever single day.
sorting among that group to find the bad guys is something that we spend every single they focused on. we have had good success, but i am not overconfident given the nature of the challenge. >> chairman, the question of -- >> your mike. >> the question of our degree of confidence is one that the three of us talk about. and my impression from the affirmation that we know and the systems we have in place to check those who travel, a chance to travel to syria, from that i think that we have a reasonable degree of competence, not a high degree that we know the numbers and we know who is attempting to travel.
the fbi has done a very good job of investigating, resting, and prosecuting those are attempting to leave the country as you mentioned. there was another arrests just yesterday. and we are enhancing our ability share information in the national security committee of the u.s. government and our allies and are evaluating ways to potentially limit to the travel of those who want to leave his country to go to syria and pick up the fight which is something we are in the midst of doing right now. as i think you know, we have been focused on the issue of foreign buyers for some months. in february and said that syria had become a matter of homeland security possibly because of this issue of foreign fighters. and so monitoring, interdicting travel of those who might want to leave this country and go there is an area out of concern right now.
one this week. i agree that with the literature , that heightens the risk of domestic base extremism because people can learn tools of mass violence through literature like what you just reference. we have our engagements. pier stepping in up. we have a pilot project focused on three cities which are participating in. this is a top priority and we are focused on. >> joint terrorism task force is working with eight partners to try to find these people lock them up before they can actually harm somebody. and so we're trying to make sure that we're touching communities of interest in, in an online way
seeing what is going on so that we can spot folks, says them, and take them out of action if they are a threat. as discussed in the country this date in this tree with the material available it is a big challenge for us. >> very sophisticated in the social media which makes it difficult. just like their radical postings, the fbi is getting aggressive trying to spot that kind of activity. finally director olson. >> just to add, a fundamental tenet of a strategy that we work on together with respect to countering violence extremism is that the neighborhoods and communities that are brisk are in the best position to identify someone is on the path to radicalization. an important part of this effort is to give them the tools, the education, the knowledge, the information to understand how magazines like the ones you just showed can funds and individual. they have to work with the state and local law enforcement community command federal law
enforcement community to intervene when someone is on that path. >> the time has expired. recognize the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary johnson, there have been comments made relative to isil making attempts to enter from our southern border. can you further speak to this committee indicate whether or not that has occurred or that anyone has been captured trying to enter our southern border? >> congressman, we see no specific intelligence or evidence to suggest the presence isil is attempting to his temple to the country to southern border my colleague that to
that. having said that if all we need to be vigilant. we need to be aware of the risk of potential and filtration by isil or any other terrorist group, and we have tools in place to monitor that and have to do that. thank you. rabin a small number of sympathizers. seen nothing to indicate that there is any sort of operational effort plot temple drake thor move of riffs and a depth.
>> you talk to us are securities being upon your return the one of the new role threats they have promoted we think is one of the solutions to address the vulnerabilities that the free-market possess. can you enlighten the committee a little more where you see some of those cyber threats coming from? >> they come from everywhere but . i call it an evil layer cake of nation states at the top, terrorist groups, international criminal syndicates, activists, and thugs and criminals and child abusers and pedophiles. as i said, because our entire world is now on the internet i am told sen my sneakers will talk to my
refrigerator to chill the refrigerator just went for run. because our whole world is there that is where those who would do less harm come. it runs every bad motive and kind of person that you can imagine, that is where the threat is. >> thank you, mr. secretary. as you know, that legislation would have given at the age as the resources and authority that it needs to perfect and protect civilian networks in critical of a structure. you you see that type of legislation the importance as we look at the smaller building is critical off.
op-ed death recently of the importance of security legislation. there is bipartisan support in the house and senate for server security legislation and i think it is critical to our national security. >> thank you. with respect to the violent extremism he gets upset. >> what we have seen is sophisticated propaganda efforts. that type of information they're putting out on the internet and in particular using social media pcs that type of propaganda that we have seen from other groups.
certainly that effort has been quite sophisticated and expensive. i think that we still -- that remains to be seen the impact of that information on potential recruits. the one fact that i could point to is the number of fighters, the significant number of foreign fighters and air travel to syria. again, many, not all but many joining the ranks of isil. so from that perspective it is obviously a concern that the propaganda is having an impact in recruiting individuals. >> and last point is with respect to violence extremism and how we counter we adopt as we look at how we address that here.
>> we work in coordination with our allies, particularly the united kingdom, a strong program of countering violent extremism and we seek to learn from their lessons, a little more experience. interact regularly to improve our efforts in this regard. >> of me thank you furling this hearing. let me join in welcoming the witnesses. it has been a privilege to work with you. the constant terror threat that we face the panoply of
al qaeda threats we have to face, court al qaeda itself and others. the media. anything you can tell us in an unclassified setting? >> if not i understand. i'll mention it because it has been in the media, discussion of specific organizations should be left to a classified setting. >> i understand that. >> ranking member thompson asked a question about working with our allies. i would ask you, the pluses and minuses of prime minister camerons proposal that passports be taken away from people in particular
countries traveling this area. americans traveling to syria, the pluses and minuses from your perspective, the a pr perspective of taking or those passports. >> thank you. it is a question better answered by secretary johnson, but quickly is of interest to us. i met with the home secretary as i know secretary johnson did from the uk this week to try and understand better how that is working for them. among the concerns i would have is the due process that would come in the united states from al i would protect sources and methods, how we would the will to use classified information to make a showing necessary. i am interested in any tool that might help us identify and incapacitate these people but i want to understand the details better. >> what would be the advantages of allowing them back into the country in monitoring and to see who they are in contact with. >> we do it on a case by case basis in all manner circumstances. sometimes it makes sense
under limited circumstances alyssum one back in and cover them closely this year they connect with. sometimes it makes sense to have them come back in the country lock them up for a white. it is hard to say in the abstract. >> secretary. >> i agree with the fbi director that the suspension of passports should be considered on a case by case basis. the state department has the authority to suspend passports, our passports. i also know that suspension, revocation of passports can be done on an expedited basis with the situation warrants in a matter of hours or days. does not necessarily mean to be -- need to be linked the process, and i agree given the current environment that we need to seriously consider limiting the ability of certain individuals travel to miter to go from one foreign country to another or from our country to another
country. >> director olson. >> i think this was touched on by the chairman he. how concerned real, put it in simple terms, rivalry between core al qaeda and it isis as far as getting them back in the headlines and establishing themselves as the number one force if they would increase the chances of an attack on the homeland >> i'm concerned about that. these troops are in competition with one another for attention, fund-raising, recruitment. one way to compete is to show that you are the biggest and baddest year about there. and so the army iran.
district theft statistics aside thyssen the innocent particularly cystic threatened this ..., a core of the new affiliate in the indian subcontinent that was announced as social media has done september 3rd. interscope cox that in addition to the brink of the tragic. >> elected thank the chairman and remember from this hearing and i would
also like to thank each of the presenters, members of the panel for your service to the nation having served on this committee from the beginnings of the recovery creating this department. i know how important the issues that all of you gentlemen are speaking of it is important to hold that the constitution, to tell all those who would have a malicious intent toward the united states that we will not sacrifice our values, liberty, commitment to equality and justice for their chairs to place. i think all of you for recognizing as my ranking member indicated that we are not here to label says the
state, is long, or the muslim people but to ensure the security and safety. of what is the first of all said that as i was looking over materials south that is irrelevant i think it is important to note that from an article, and ask unanimous consent to put into the record an article about william can't say who indicated that the issue were the idea of isil begins in 2006 long before president obama, long before secretary johnson nor anyone was in a position that there weren't today and before the american withdrawal from at that time popular backing. so let me be very clear. i believe our president has been effective in trying to both downsize and bring down though war and as well
address the national security of the american people. i will not vote for an authorization for war, but we cannot talk about isil without doing something. i will vote today for insuring that other fighters , in this instance the pre -- free syrian army is well trained to do the job. that means that we here in the united states want to be sure of what we're doing to protect the homeland. i would ask as a follow-up question on my colleague to my coming from texas do you feel that you have sufficient resources on the border check, if there was such an intrusion, that your staffing between ice, which is on the inner side between the border patrol, intelligence, working with your colleagues, do you believe that you have the
right and necessary resources? >> we have more resources today than at any time previously. over the last several years we have put at the border particularly the southwest border an unprecedented level of resources in terms of people, technology, vehicles, and other equipment. as you know, i am sure congresswoman, apprehensions of the last 14 years of gone down. they have gone up this year because of a spike in the rio grande valley sector, but we could use more. and the bill passed by the senate last year, 744 would have gone long way to providing additional resources, and personnel for the southwest border. >> thank-you. >> toward border security. >> thank you. >> i wanted to be clear if i could because my time is running the you do have -- i do support that legislation and would rather have the
federal resources than unpaid national guard that is then put down by the government. let me quickly ask the question to all of you, we know that we have been hacked. the question is, are you able to discern the distinction between the identity thief, hackers, and that of the state's hackers that are coming in as terrorists on the cyrus' security great? could you all answer that question? my last question so i get it in so you can answer is if you might the women of this nation, are seemingly target server treatment -- recruitment for isil, and coming from western nations to lumpur, maybe uneducated. are we having a special target to recognize the concern for those women? how we would stop that. he could answer that i would appreciated. >> let me begin with the question on the cyber. as the director suggested, we face cyber threats from a
range of different types of factors, and i think that we do a pretty good job of detecting the nature and the type of factor for each specific attack, but it is arranged for private individuals to others. and i will defer to my colleagues. >> secretary johnson. attribution gets increasingly difficult as the thieves can increasingly sophisticated in some of their techniques come to rival those of nations with your reasonably good job of sorting them out and with respect to the recruitment of women they're is a targeted effort by isil to attract fighters and people who would be spouses of fighters given the nature of their orientation. they're attracting them to start families and their warped world. >> i would only ask we add
it to a, among the most barbaric aspects of what has been done. a huge concern. if i may ask, you held up a constitution, and today is constitution date. the director of national intelligence held a swearing in for those of us to reaffirm our commitment to the constitution with the work force. i think that reflects the commitment within in the ctc in the broader intelligence community to the fidelity of the constitution. >> if i might think mr. olson for his service and ask unanimous consent. believe i ask for unanimous consent for this and ask for unanimous consent which i would like to refer to the chairman's review. h.r. 5488 which i would like to ask unanimous consent to put into the record which is legislation that is called
no-fly for foreign fighters. does not tie your hands but it refines the watch list to make sure that every one that should be on it is on it, particularly since the foreign fighter concept is continuing to grow. i ask unanimous consent and introduce that into the record and look for to discussing it with you gentlemen. >> without objection. >> and you very much. >> mentioned in his testimony that over 100 americans a joint. do we know how many actually joined isil as well as other terrorist organizations around the world? >> i want to be clear about the numbers. we estimate over 100 americans have travel to syria to join with extremist groups in syria or at least
have attempted to travel. >> the number who have actually joined. >> once in serious it is difficult to discern what happens. >> do you know who they are? do we know who those people actually are? >> we have specific information about who they are. >> well, going back to what the former chairman was asking about passports, the state department recently has said that they are not going to revoke passports on americans the flight to cereal or these different places. if we know who these people are is an outright security threat not to revoke their passports. certainly i agree in due process, but it is a huge security threat to this country if we do not revoke their passports allowing
those terrorists that are all on the no-fly less. and that presents a huge security threat. we have cities in the state of california that have declared themselves as being sanctuaries for illegal interests into this country do you see this kind of philosophy of cities or even the state's being a security risk to our nation? >> secretary. >> i guess i would answer it this way. we have a pretty good ability to law enforcement intelligence security means judge of five individuals including a documented to people of suspicion, suspected terrorists.
the fbi proves that time and again. i do think that in any situation where there are a large number of people who are undocumented there is a risk that it hinders our ability to track those individuals from my perspective of what want to see those people come for ended on the book. if what you are suggesting is that the risk to homeland security grows there are larger numbers in any one place and in the crowded area i cannot disagree with that. we know that we have a porous border, and we already know we have zero t m other than mexicans crossing the border. we have apprehended them.
we do not know how many people have not been apprehended. >> we generally believe we have an ability to calculate total of attempts to cross the border illegally and apprehensions are large percentage of that. it runs to turn 70 and 90%. we have a sense about who we did not could. >> do we know how many serious or others have crossed the border? >> in a broad sense. obviously legal migration. obviously a large number of people who travel from those countries for legitimate and lawful means believe we have a pretty it cents of the nationalities of newcomers to this country through
legal migration. >> frankly i think this program increases our security threat. i think we need to look at that. some americans said that isil and what is going on today, it's just a local civil war. "would you say as far as the threat that this poses to our own interest in this country? if i could get all three of you to respond to that and an en. >> i will start. congressman, isil represents a huge threat to our interest, a potential threat to our homeland security, a threat to the stability in the region and obviously a threat to americans in the region, and they have demonstrated a willingness to kill americans because
there are americans. as the chairman and others pointed out, they have acquired territory. we must be concerned any time any terrorist organization acquires territory training for launching attacks, and we are determined to take the fight to this group. >> director, would you, please. >> i agree with what secretary johnson said. we should were the case that it was something that was in a box but is not. >> i completely agree and would only add that there is certainly no lack of understanding within our departments and agencies or opinions within the intelligence community, the nature of the debt that the group poses. >> thank you so much. my time is expired. >> during a limited time we have the witnesses told members strictly to the five men will. next, we have mr. brewer is not here. mr. payne.
>> right next to me. >> think you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, recently there have been news reports that claimed thousands of foreign students have overstayed their visas and had disappeared. however, the department of homeland security has done a great job and tehran data appears to show that while these cases were initially flag for review the location of the students was in fact known by d.h. as field offices. there are many reasons why a record might be applied to, none of which are reasons to expect dangerous activity.
for example, their own press office has stated that many cases appear to be closed until a variety of legal reasons including the students received a green card or departure from the united states south. you know, for generations american foreign-policy leaders have agreed to educational experiences at to be one of the most successful foreign policy to los three day live the nobel peace prize winner since 1987 have been educated in the united states. america needs friends and understanding around the world more than ever. educating young people here gives us a great opportunity to look to develop those ties for future world leaders. therefore we need to understand how the department manages a student visa program. can you discuss what the
in compliance to the receipt of green cards. there is a fraction of the population where there is still open investigations. i don't have the exact numbers offhand, but a large number those who are initially individuals have concerned are now either in compliance or have returned that they are still open investigations on some and so i think we are doing a better job of tracking individuals and i totally agree with what you said about the importance is to be says and receiving an education. >> thank you. a report they had used a number 60,000, which absolutely was ridiculous and absurd. you know, it it appears that the
number is closer to maybe 6000, but being on top of narrowing that number consistently. is that correct? >> that is correct. of the 6000 or prefer to come a large number are either in compliance or have returned or been arrested. there is still a number that is a fraction of that 6000 better under investigation. i believe most are either in compliance or have been overturned. >> thank you. i will yield back. >> the gender from pennsylvania, mr. meehan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. comey, i appreciate your focus on technology. i enjoyed her in it at about the fact your stickers may tell your refrigerator you went for a run. you'll appreciate the same sneakers or tell your wife you
went to the refrigerator. i do appreciate your leadership on the technology front. i am struck to your concept that your observation after 10 years used in a dramatic as you've identified and not cyberdomain and dimension of warfare pms either capacity. one of our former colleagues, lee hamilton who observed the same phenomenon from our time together in 2001 testified earlier in the week as even greater than the collective threat currently coming from isil. we know about the use of the radicalization in the recruitment that has been done. we have seen more sophisticated attacks from iranians tied to denial of services of our banks. facing criminal games use the internet for creation of ways in which they can do things like extortion and raise revenue and
i'm also genuinely concerned about purchasing expertise for people who may not be associated that can be hired to conduct the dvd. there is some concern even a certain point and be tied back to isil with cyberattacks of government organizations from energy companies cannot transfer systems, banks, things of that nature. invited back, looking specifically at isil, what do you think is the cyberdimension of the cyberthreat that isil creates? >> thank you, mr. meehan. i remember finally our time working together in thank you for caring about these issues because it transcends all the things we're responsible for. i think we focused most on using the internet to recruit. go through peer-to-peer communications to try lower
people to come and fight for them. as a chair through their slick to energize and train would-be fighters. i know this is something and ctc has spent a lot of time thinking about as well. >> have you seen something with regard to the activities that would lead you to believe there's a growing comment of the diet may create a threat from the cyberdomain. >> it is something we are concerned about that at this point i would character reset as aspirational in terms of any capability of isil or similar groups to carry out cyberattacks. i think as direct or comey said the primary concern right now about cyber, is the use to recruit and attract followers. >> director johnson or secretary johnson, you may feel comfortable commenting on that,
but i want to take my remaining minute to thank you for your leadership in close cooperation with this committee as we have were to structure new legislation that would enhance the ability for the agencies across the board to better prepare to be responsive to this growing of technological threat. can you tell me -- i know you support it, but can you tell me why you believe this legislation is critical to the enhancement of your mission and why it's so critical react in a timely fashion on this? >> congressmen subzero come in thank you for your leadership in this area. i think it's critical. several reasons it is important. one, to codify authority of dhs to act in the world. there is clinical uncertainty about our ability to protect
the.go world. there are statutes that somewhat interpret to inhibit our ability to protect the world. so the existing statutory landscape needs clarity in order for us to do our job. we know also in the private sector there are those who are concerned about their legal authority to share information with the government here they are concerned about their civil liability, potential civil liability if they share information if they act in response to the government and also looking to enhance our authority to hire cybertalent. one of my immediate concerns which i know you're focused on is clarity in terms of helping nasa police the world and this is something we've got to do on a daily basis when we face a tax on a daily basis, not just a
fiber security threat anymore. >> i thank you and for your leadership, particularly the promotion of the ncic through the junction through which this activity can take place. mr. chairman, thank you for your leadership. i yield back. >> thank you for your leadership on cyber. secretary, your strong support and administration support we all appreciate as well. the chair recognizes mr. higgins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. firstly on the isil numbers, three weeks ago in weeks ago on reports it is estimated to be between seven and 11,000 fighters. the most recent cia report puts the estimate at 31,000. i am just wondering if that distinction as a result of bad numbers analysis or rapid recruitment success on the part of isil. >> yes, congressman.
so the current assessment is that the strength is anywhere between 20,000 approximately 31,031,500. that obviously demonstrates what we talk about is an approximation with our large range. so we have limited intelligence on this question and not just by virtue of the fact that our ability to collect on this question is limited in. and in iraq. but the increase and not number does also reflects some of the recent gains the group has made her battlefield successes and recruitment efforts, particularly in iraq. so it is both a change reflects our limited intelligence collection, but also the gains the groups made. >> since the commencement of airstrikes, have those numbers dropped? have the increase is then reduced? because i think part of the military strategy there is to
stop the train to momentum because that more than anything else is probably the most potent recruitment advantage isis has. >> what we've seen from intelligence perspective is the way the airstrikes have had an impact on the military momentum of isil. it is too soon to tell how those strikes will affect the overall numbers of isil fighters or their ability to join the ranks. >> said the estimate of future recruitment is open-ended and unknown. >> that's right. it is now a question. >> you know, it is hard to know where this is going. because nobody saw it coming. if we saw it coming, we
potentially could have acted earlier. we know that 15,000 foreign fighters traveling to syria from europe and the united states begins to bring us closer to home. isil is younger than al qaeda. its more aggressive. it's more brutal. it's more technologically sophisticated. this poses a major problem. my district among peers last year there was a terror plot to involve a passenger train that was thwarted going through niagara falls. it is indicted and thought to have thou qaeda affiliation. in 2036 homegrown terrorists work on the good of providing material support to al qaeda
after having traveled to afghanistan and participated in al qaeda training camps. just yesterday in rochester, new york, 50 miles from my district, and then was indicted for attempting support to kill u.s. soldiers and for possession of firearms and silencers. so i think people shouldn't be alarmed, but i ain't that the growth of im say, we have a strategy that is not foolproof. it depends on people who we have not demonstrated any confidence in before, the free theory and our man all the thousands of militias that make data. this is a major concern. i saw the secretary's statement. there are five things the department of homeland is doing
including a number of other things. that is fine. but i just think the thread of isa to the american homeland is much more substantial than we are willing to acknowledge any idea again is not to alarm anybody, but to prepare for what is a very, very serious situation that is metastasized in that part of the world here they are not going to stop in eastern syria or northwestern iraq. they have a goal and it's very specifically defined. the borders and not part of the world, and the people of no appreciation for historically they have nothing to do with it and they are looking to attend the entire middle eastern region and wanting to clean up for themselves. i yield back. >> the gentleman status expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the time of the committee. i think mr. higgins for his comments as well.
thank you on the gentleman for your service or a nation. you have an immense challenge ahead of you. we all recognize that and we support it where we can. having a dialogue with about the global threats to safety and security is very important that only for lawmakers and policymakers but also the american people. i want to comment about secretary johnson you mentioned whether you use a broad spectra and whether it's broad or narrow, the fact is we have no idea who is in our country with the intent is. one side of the political spectrum really wants to paint a rosy picture that we have a secure border, but the fact is americans realize that we don't. we also i think americans are counting on us in this arena to transcend politics and work to
keep the bad elements out of our country and work to keep another 9/11 from happening. they expect you guys to transcend politics and focus on keeping us safe. i grew up in the cold war. at that time, we were as a nation tracking troop movements of a soviet tank placement, surface and subsurface ships and where they may be across the country, across the globe. now we are tracking individuals. foreign fighters who may have left our country europe and traveled to syria to fight jihad whom have been radicalized, who may have the ability to travel back to their country and have the ability to come here. in june i was in brussels and before we got to brussels, a foreign fighter had traveled to syria, was radicalized, made his way through turkey and germany. germany knew about this individual, failed to let the belgians know. he wanted to brussels and shot a
three if not for individuals lost their lives. he tried to flee through france and was caught at a bus stop with the weapons he used to commit the crime. germany knew but failed to share the information. we are relying on information sharing as we try to track individuals, foreign fighters as they travel around the globe. it's an immense challenge to go back to what i mentioned earlier we heard earlier about the 100 or so americans that have gone to fight but we also have somali americans to travel to fight with al-shabaab. volcker braun, al qaeda, wherever they may be in the arabian peninsula or other places. don't take your eyes off of qaeda because it is still a threat. the thing that i want to question this morning is a classified -- actually it is unclassified now, internal memo from fbi on june 13 by the
criminal that section about encroachment emissions by other federal law enforcement in the traditional fbi lanes. it goes on to talk about mission creep by homeland security investigations is an issue in an alarming number of build offices. i appreciate the director of fbi saying that it's really not an issue. but what i want to point out is t. just listed up in 2003 after recognizing the stove piping of information. the walls are bare as a sharing information between agencies that possibly could have swore to the 9/11 hijackings. i go back to the comments i made earlier about germany failing to the belgian nobody foreign fighter that travel through their country who ended up killing some folks. we cannot afford to have these types of wars returning agencies
charged with keeping us safe. so director, how do you combat that? how do you keep that issue from being an issue not about to hear from secretary johnson on how he feels about that. >> thank you, mr. duncan. by talking about her constantly, the report made my head explode and so i share that had explosion with every leader to let them know how i think about it, which is the fbi does nothing alone. to be effective in protecting american people across our responsibilities, we need the partnerships visually represented at the two of us sitting together. there's no other way to do it. the american taxpayer should have no patience for turf battles. i've got nine. >> director, appreciate your communication where the rapper meets the road and that is where the communication is to have been. if you've got turf wars going on, i'm afraid information may not be shared appropriately.
>> i visited now 44 of may 56 offices. i talk everywhere i go to make sure i am shaping the culture of the right way and i think that is an exception to what is reflect to the news account. was made tremendous progress in 13 years and we will keep working on it. >> at this time. thank you. >> congressman, just yesterday director comey and i got together to talk about cybersecurity to make sure organizations are working together effectively and cybersecurity. we both have a role with other regions he is. one of our challenges is to make sure what you refer to doesn't happen because that doesn't do any good for the american people, for a government, for the taxpayers so we have committed to setting the example at the top and still a bad example in the rank-and-file in our leadership. and cybersecurity we get together received late to talk
about what is our framework, are we getting it right? are we having any turf battles? so all three of us and i think i speak for our respective organizations and communities are committed to working together. it does depend a lot on the personalities at the top committing to work together. the last thing i will say is your comments about dhs. and the nine months i have been in office, i have seen the advantage of having the components within my department together in one conference. when we were dealing with the situation in the southwest border this summer in the rio grande valley, i could put together my conference table cbc , i.c.e., and entities across the federal government previous to the creation of dhs.
so i have seen the synergies of putting components together in one department. so that was the thrust of your comment. i very much endorse it and agree with you. >> that is the whole idea. glad you are communicating with element. we need to learn from the 9/11 commission report and the reason we combat stovepipe even of information americans are counting on you guys. thank you so much and god bless you. >> the chair recognizes mr. o'rourke. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for holding this hearing and i join my colleagues who said earlier there is perhaps no way the american public can know everything that each of you in the men and women who work what you have done to protect this country. nonetheless the ou i think sonoita drama colleagues and letting you know how much we appreciated. secretary johnson, i appreciate you setting the record straight on terrorist threats to the homeland from our border with
mexico. and i could not agree more with you that despite our success by far, that there have not been any terrorist plots connected to the southern border, but there's no evidence that isis is preparing to infiltrate the united states of the southern border. i couldn't agree more with you this is something we need to remain vigilant against, continue to use all of our resources as warranted by the threat that exists based on the evidence we find. i also appreciate you answering my colleagues question about whether we have sufficient resources on the southern border. we spend $18 billion a year. for 20,000 border patrol agents, the vast majority who are the southern border today. those are doubled in numbers -- more than double the numbers we saw five or six or seven years ago. as you mentioned a number of apprehensions is at a record low bubble. we saw 1.6 million apprehensions
15 years ago on the eve of 9/11. this year but this spake he think it is going to be right at about half a million at the highest. in the el paso sector, the community i represent, the average age in apprehended 4.2 migraines or crosshairs this last year. 4.2 per agent. that does not reflect the current value decisions have. there is a lot to be said for that. but you also said earlier about we have sufficient federal resources there, we could use more. he mentioned the senate proposal to add another 20,000 agents on the border. i am really concerned by what we know the greatest risk is that our airports, talk about homegrown terrorists, that we are excessively focusing on the southern border. again, let's remain vigilant. we have finite resources. we should apply them where we have the greatest threats on
established risks we have been able to determine. i'd love your thoughts on that comment. >> most people wouldn't does the motion of a risk-based strategy to homeland security, border security, aviation security. we focused resource for we believe the risk exists. it is an effect they have come use of taxpayer dollars in aviation security, for example, we made the judgment to develop the tsa pre-check programs where we focus resources on the population we know less about. the border patrol experts that i have talked to also endorsed that approach. but with additional personnel, additional boots on the ground, on the border comes surveillance technology, the ability to monitor what is going on on the southwest border, to know where
the threat areas are because they do my agree. they do move around. we are to challenge this summer in south texas. so i continually with our border patrol personnel look at where the threat areas, how has it evolved? and so in my judgment in response to your question, i think that a risk-based strategy is appropriate and technology -- more technology, more surveillance is the key to our future for border security. >> following on your comments, my colleague scott analogy in previous conflicts to apply to this threat from terrorists who might want to enter the homeland. i also think about the french on the eve of world war ii and their session with the imagine line and the fortifications of the line of defense in a specific place we are going to somehow solve the threat posed to this country and we have to
be far more creative and really be rigorous and disciplined about applying resources to where those threats are or where they could read based on established risks. last question to you, mr. secretary. there is a southern border perching campaign plan for dhs. some have compared this to a south, type effort of organizing resources and assets against a specific threat. could you briefly describe the intent of that campaign and where you are in its implementation? >> first of all, going back to your previous question, i think i speak for my colleagues when i say none of us -- none of us downplay or underestimate the risk or the concern of a terrorist or terrorist organization infiltrated our homeland. that is probably our primary
concern day-to-day when they go to work every day. it is something we have to be vigilant about. southern campaign planned is in development. i expect to be in a position to announce some things in the month about dover concerning the campaign plan in an effort to more strategically bring to bear all the resources of my department on border security. in a way that is not stovepipe, in a way that is strategic in how we use all of our different resources within the department. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. the chair recognizes mr. chaffetz. >> thank you. i thank you all three. secretary johnson, i want to thank you particularly for the good work the men and women are doing on homeland security. since he taken office, the production in response to congress in terms of responding to letters and inquiries is the
difference i cannot tell you how much better it is and i thank you and the people who work on those. i do appreciate it. >> you may not like the responses which are getting a pass. >> true. since he took office, secretary johnson on december 23rd, are you aware of any apprehensions of suspect it are known terrorists who are trying to come to our country illegally? >> that is an important question. attempting to come to this country? >> who came across our border illegally. did you ever apprehend anybody who is a known terrorists, suspected terrorists, some annuitize to a terrorist organization? >> sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind. that doesn't mean there is none.
perhaps director comey can think of one. sitting here right now none comes to mind but that does mean there is a one. nor does that mean there's no investigation of one. >> my concern is i have reason to believe on september 10 there were four individuals trying to cross the texas border who are apprehended at two different stations that do have ties to known terrorist organizations in the middle east. are you not aware of that? >> i have heard reports to that effect. i don't have the actress the of the reports or how much credence to give them, but i have heard reports to that effect. >> i guess that is my concern. does that information rise to the level of the secretary? but may give you some metrics and some of the reason i am concerned about what is going on in the southwest border. this is an internal document of yours. while it is noted nearly 466,000 apprehensions over the last 351
days, we also have 157,012 getaways. we have 14,263,040 reported turn backs. one of the other metrics that is also fascinating to me is the sensors that are found are primarily throughout the southwest. we had just under 5 million sensor head in fiscal year 2013. but fiscal year 2014 we have now had more than 6 million of those hits. is that while burroughs and tortoises and animals that there is a lot of false positives there. but the concern is if you look at the apprehension, we have apprehended people from 143 different countries. 143 countries according to the internal statistics come at her team are from syria. six were from iraq.
four were from a random list goes on to 143 different countries. the men and women who work on our southwest border do an amazing job. but to suggest we have operational control of the border, help me understand this. there were 70% to 90% success rate. explain to me what that is. >> when you look at what we believe to be total attempts to cross the border illegally, the estimated rate of those who make the attempt, those who are are apprehended as somewhere between 70% and 90% and it varies in time. >> previously commented gao had indicated only 6% operational control of the border. what percentage -- what is the operational control of the border at this time? >> i don't have that number off hand. i do agree with you that the
challenge of those coming from countries other than mexico, particularly into the rio grande valley sector is one i am concerned about and something i have been concerned about since i took office in january. they've seen it myself at our detention center in brownsville when i visited there in january. there was something like 80 nationalities present there. >> i need to interact because they are just a little time. i've got to switch quick to a yes or no question presented no question but in a tv through president reagan put in place prohibition from seeking visas to come to the united states to be trained in aviation security -- aviation and nuclear sciences. myself, the judiciary chairman bob goodlatte, congressman trey galli and i introduced to the legislation that we keep the prohibition in place. there's been a process going through your office is in through the administration to
actually reverse the prohibition that was put in place in 1983. that now sits on your desk. what is your view of listing the prohibition? >> i do not intend to accept prohibition at this time. i don't believe legislation to prevent me from lifting it is necessary. given the current environment i do not intend to lift it at this time. >> i appreciate it. go back, thank you. >> the chair recognizes mr. swalwell. >> thank you, mr. chairman. 13 years ago i was a congressional intern here on september 11 happened. i watched with great interest our country's response to september 11 and i watched the creation, mr. secretary, of your department in this committee become a full standing committee. now i think what we are experiencing with the rise and spread of isil in the middle east in our efforts to respond to what is exact why this
department was created. so first i just want to thank you, mr. secretary, the two directors for the work you do everyday to enter these challenges to keep us safe at home because while we will consider today what defensive measures we may take abroad, the critical component that i am most concerned about is what are we doing here at home? i just want to first get out of the way something my colleague from texas alluded to. mr. secretary, do we have any evidence of any of the following groups coming across our southern border? isil? >> we have no specific intelligence that members of isil are crossing into the united states on our southern border. director olson could comment more specifically or direct me. >> will go one by one. how about hezbollah.
>> same answer. >> how about all nature of? >> i believe the answer is the same. but again, i want to defer to my intelligence community colleague here in terms of any assessment of the current environment. >> may also ask in addition to not stopping anyone or interacting with anyone or energy to anyone or interdicting anyone coming across is not a member of these groups, would it also be safe to say the intelligence community has not collected any information with various means and methods it uses to collect intelligence that there are efforts underway to use the southern border to go into the united states? >> i think that is true certainly with respect to your first question, congressman on isil. we mentioned chatterton said the pacers about that question, though we have seen nothing to indicate any effort in the united states would support of isil. >> i was in jordan, egypt,
morocco and israel two weeks ago and now that our state department teams and allies over there. my greater fear is not the southern border, but we were told about the number of americans who are over in syria and iraq fighting shoulder to shoulder with isil as well as the number of westerners over there. i was hoping you could elaborate on what we are going to do or what we are doing to disrupt any plans to return to the united states and carry out with the tools and hate that they've built and developed abroad. >> congressmen, we have made enhanced efforts to track these individuals within the various communities that the u.s. government. as you heard me mention about we have enhanced our aviation security measures. we are making enhanced efforts. we stepped up our dialogue with our allies, with their partners
they are. the president will chair u.n. security council session next week on the topic of foreign fighters and we are considering a number of things to do that will give us more information from passengers from countries from the so waiver countries so that we know more about individuals who attempt to travel. there's always law-enforcement. i believe the fbi does a terrific job of the law-enforcement perspective of of investigating and arresting people who attend to join terrorist organizations who attempt to leave the country and i believe our allies also understand the nature of this threat making enhanced efforts as well. >> and with the number of foreign fighters coming into syria and iraq, i have asked you, mr. secretary and others to the department that we really expedite the number of visa waiver countries who are participating in inter-polls, so
lamaze travel document databases. i remain concerned after what happened back in the spring with the malaysian airlines disappearance of two passengers who had boarded the flight was lost or stolen passports. now more than ever we need to make sure we know and have these other countries step up her efforts to report to interpol. if you could update us briefly on what we are doing to get these countries. >> we have been having a dialogue with our allies and i think they understand the nature of that issue. >> thank you again to each of you for what you're doing and i yield back. >> this committee is considering legislation to require visa waiver countries to provide our data and information in exchange for that privilege. so with that, the chair recognizes mr. barletta. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i don't know for making that argument whether we should secure our southern border are
not. that is the feeling i'm getting. there's a lot of talk if any terrorists have crossed the border illegally, but we do know that those wishing to do us harm have manipulated the immigration system to enter and remain in the united states. mahmoud abu mahi mount was the convicted perpetrator of the 1993 world trade center bombing received amnesty in 1986 after he claimed to be an agricultural worker despite being a cab driver in new york. the only thing he planted in america was a bomb. president obama has told the american people as potential terrorist said he plans to grant some form of administrative amnesty to potentially millions of those current in the country unlawfully. secretary johnson, as you make recommendations to the president as to how he should implement
such a pro-program, how would you assure the american people that another one not slip through the cracks? >> congressmen, i am very focused on knowing as much as we can about individuals who are undocumented in this country. and i believe that if an earned path to citizenship to would encourage people to come forward and submit to a background check so they can get on the books. i know there's a lot of debate -- just give me a second. there's an earned path to citizenship. from my homeland security perspective, i want people living in this country and documented to come forward and get on the books and subject themselves to a background check so i can know who they are and
whether it is the current dock a program or an earned path to citizenship, whether it's deferred action or aren't path to citizenship, from my homeland security perspective, i want people to come forward. >> secretary johnson, i have dealt with this as a mayor in my hometown. do we honestly believe any would-be terrorist or criminal or drug dealer is going to come forward to have a criminal background check were they going to remain underground with the criminal records. >> the more i learn about the undocumented. the more effectively we can use our resources against the type of person you just described the better. and so, i am interested in going after public safety, national
security threats. i want to have a system that more effectively get that population. >> do you believe he would've come forward forward for a criminal background check in 1993? >> most criminals do not subject themselves to criminal background checks. i agree with that. so he so what if plan a die. i question why this was a recommendation that was passed by congress and signed by the president where we haven't taken those recommendations and enforce them. a summary of the very first line says the poor component that according to the commission of nat and hijackers could have been intercepted or deported or more diligent enforcement of them accretion laws. why are we not picking up recommendations of the 9/11 commission reports we don't have
another attack again? >> there were a number of 9/11 commission recommendations i wish we could all adopt. >> before seeing immigration laws is number one. >> plainly, enforcement of integration life is a top priority of mind that with the resources congress gives us, we can and should do an effective job of going after those who represent threats to public safety. >> the discussion here and we've had it in the past in another hearing, whether or not somebody has crossed the border already that is a terrorist. nobody is to plane to crash into one of our buildings until the first time as well. that is not a good reason we should secure the border because we believe nobody has crossed the border is a terrorist already. thank you. >> the chair recognizes mr. keating. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all three of our witnesses for their service,
particularly director olsen as you leave for your service. it is pretty clear. also i want to thank particularly director comey for being here for the first time. i appreciate it and i think it's very important. it is clear from all of your testimony that the number one threat remains homegrown radicalized terrorists in our country. that is something i think is heightened with the isil direct as well. there is a person on the most wanted list by the fbi as a terrorist ahmad abu somma who went to the same school that one of my children dead and later went to school a few miles away from none. it is close to home. when you look at these threats and you look at the different challenges, i am reminded of our work we did with the boston
marathon bombing in the investigation concluded that information sharing with local police is so important in giving director olsen's testimony on how isil has become more sophisticated. it's harder to intercept messaging. that remains more of a priority. i would like to ask director comey to share the progress you have made in terms of doing a better job sharing information with local police and also what progress is made in terms of formalizing that, in terms of memorandum of understanding that can be their entry and send different at industry shins and the need, if any, for relation of statutory card. >> thank you. for anyone who was asleep before 9/11 i woke up today would not recognize the depth and extent of information sharing their state and local partners.
the world is transformed in that respect, but we can always find room to improve it. a number of things we have done since boston that have improved it is we have made clear what one of the default to be information sharing that we don't want anything to be an impediment to that. they've also done something else that makes great sense, which is each joint terrorism task force has irregular meeting with all the leadership's involved to review inventory. what came in over the last 30 days or week or two weeks, what came in, what got closed, questions, can turn to make sure everybody is in sync with what is going on and a number of smaller ways in which we have improved information sharing. i travel around the country and meet with state and local law-enforcement and i'm hearing good things. i think we're in a good place, but i don't want to rest on that. i want to continue the dialogue to improve it.
>> i appreciate that. one of the areas i found local officials are taking enough advantage and have access to classified information. but it is my understanding they are not taking advantage of that the way they can. is there something we can do to help those numbers make it easier for them or hurt them to get more information? >> i don't know other than encouraging it. i'm urging all to participate in the task force is to get the secret level clearance so if you need to come you can see things quickly. we are getting there. people are very, very busy and they know their officers on her task forces are cleared and see everything. that removes some of the sense of urgency, but would like to encourage up more and more. >> i want to thank you for your shared interests with local and date officials.
trying to reinforce the fact that even though i think you are a director, there will be a time that all of us go from our different positions and its importance of having things in writing, whether it's a memorandum or something that transcends the administration, what progress in terms of having something in writing in terms of information sharing. >> that makes good sense. in eight years i will be leaving this job and out of it to make sure it doesn't depend on people that the processes are documented. >> thank you. >> if i could comment on your question about classified information, state and local get-together with the sbi and dhs can we have a program called the joint terrorism which we bring state and local police officers to the national counterterrorism center where they have access to the basis
for detail more than two years. they then help us design products that are classified and turn those into unclassified products. working through dhs and fbi so that we can get what they see at the classified national level on information usable by police officers on the street and firefighters around the country. it's been a successful program the last several years. >> that's the first line of defense. i want to appreciate your efforts in making it easier to get. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes mr. perry. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for her service to the nation. it is a privilege to be here today. all of my questions i would hope you would answer. so whatever ability you can to answer the questions.
what are the department mechanisms in place that would prevent known american and european citizens for terrorist organizations from reentering a renter in the homeland? >> first of all, congressman, we have our no-fly list. back in, general aviation security, aviation security will pick you up. api data, pnr data, the market learned about travelers the better. i think we can do a little better. from visa waiver countries, passengers are required to answer questions on electronic system for travel authorization called esta.
we have been the visa waiver program security assurances that each nation is required under what we call a chess pd six which requires assurances from waiver countries. and we have general information sharing with the national security intelligence community within each of these other governments. so with the current environment, i think we all agree that we need to be particularly focused and particularly engaged in making sure that these mechanisms work appropriately. >> so if they ask you this. i defer to you folks. but what i hear seems like somewhat passive. i don't mean to degrade his ability and capability, but it seems somewhat passive asking a passenger to disclose information vital to us in securing the nation when their
motives might be otherwise seems less than optimal. i am looking to see if there's anything we have done that is new, so to speak, but you should be willing or could be willing to divulge and maybe anything you might need we should be lucky not. >> i want to defer to director olson on this, but this, the this, but we can just outright prevent them from traveling. or if they don't quite rise to the level of being on the no-fly list, they should be subjected to some form of secondary screening, which is more than just answering questions. it gives us an opportunity to provide enhanced scrutiny on an individual before they get on an airplane. >> i think a secretary johnson said, there's a number of opportunities of layers of screening that occur in anyone trying to travel to the united states at a in at the border at one point in time but before they are right here, their
opportunities to do that. one of the changes from the 9/11 commission 13 years ago was to create a database of known terrorists. the number of the agencies have a single off every now suspected terrorists without permission about. that information is then turned into unclassified watch list here but this screening center and a number of agencies and the screening responsibility. the no-fly list is one example. everyone who applies for a visa and seeks to travel here through the esta program to screen against that database. when they put their name and passport and whether they are for visa or a non-visa requiring country, that information is checked to see if they are on the watch list and there is a subject to additional screening or stopped altogether from traveling the country. >> i understand and i appreciate
the answer. i'm not here to be critical so i will just be curious. before my time expires, suspected isis accounts have called for border operations are they sought to raise awareness for illegal entry through mexico as a viable option. based on even some of your testimony that says we have weak immigration laws and the fact we've used opera, do you think we should be concerned that they would use the propaganda to bridge this other border and use it as an operational tool? should we as americans be concerned about the possibility based on everything you know and our posture today? >> we absolutely need to be concerned about all the ways in which someone can enter this country for the purpose of carrying a terrorist attack. it is our overriding number one priority to prevent that from happening. we need to allocate our resources based on the information we have been where we see the threat.
at this point we have seen some social media and small numbers that are not good at it to isil. we've seen nothing to indicate any real effort to use the southwest border to enter the country. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. the chair now recognizes mr. clark -- ms. clarke. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to first of all just applaud all of your efforts to keep the american people safe and secure. you know, i think all of my colleagues has stated it, but i wanted to emphasize that since 9/11, we have really progressed and stood up an infrastructure that has for the most part kept our nation safe from foreign terrorist attacks. i want to also wish you must continue success in all your
endeavors. i want to drill down a little bit more on the subject of cybersecurity, particularly the workforce. we've heard a number of colleagues raised it today, but i know the federal state law enforcement organization faces challenges in having the appropriate number of skills, investigators, forensic investigators. we all know that the pool of qualified candidates i donated because individuals are involved in cybercrime are highly trained specialists requiring law enforcement and technical skills. according to some, what should investigator takes up to 12 months for that individual to become proficient in the use of those skills. the competitive nature of the arena, the difficulty of
competing with the private sector. so my question to you is when we know that it is a challenge to recruit such individuals from talent in the place of private-sector competing author and train them not to date with changing technology and increasingly sophisticated criminal techniques. how are you dealing with this specialized manpower issue in your agencies? i want to also submit to you that while today we are not necessarily see them access between advanced terrorist act two d. through the use of the internet, i can envision that feeds money into these enterprises and i'm sure you can as well as creative as we can be in our mind. where you share with us your
thoughts? >> i will start with that. i agree that it is critical to our efforts. i have engaged in recruitment advert and have encouraged young people and graduate schools in the save record or in northern with hannah, georgia tech, other places to consider a career for a short period of time before they go into the private sector, working for dhs or the fbi to serve their country and there is a tremendous level of learning they get by serving their country in the cybersecurity world even for a short period of time. the congress can help us. there is a bill on the senate side to enhance my cyberhiring capabilities and i hope along with other pending legislation in cyberthat the congress will act on that he could cite you
need help in attracting cybertalent. >> what about the issue of retention? are you finding people come -- is that it had been slow? how do we maintain? >> i just was a very, very valued member of my team to citigroup, so yes there is an issue with retention. financial sector as much more capability to offer very attractive packages than either jim or i do. even though everybody knows it is cool working for the fbi. >> do either of you want to add to that? >> i don't want secretary johnson to know my secret, but he figured when he figured by now. it's much cooler to work for the fbi. since that is part of my pitch. it is a challenge watching on c-span. i was joking. into private sector security
before returning to government, used to compete for my site for talent in the amount of money that is paid to be young, but folks at talent we can't compete with. but i believe we can compete on the nature of our mission. you're not going to make much of a living doing what we do, but what i say to young people is to make a life any other. because of the saving lives. that is what we do for a living. it's a different weighted you about work but it's a place we can and should compete for these folks. >> the chair recognizes mr. sanford. >> thank you, mr. chairman. again, thanks to reach one of you for testifying before the committee. inasmuch as today's hearing to the homeland and inasmuch as we are going to take a fearless advocate vote today to homeland
press, i would be curious to hear each one of your perspectives on what you view to be the biggest deficiency with regard to the plan that we will vote on today. >> i guess i would say the plan that the president has put forward to deal with isil, i assume that is what you were referring to, is a strong plan in many respects. we've got to work with an international coalition. we have got to work to support the efforts made by the new iraqi government and we've got to take the fight directly to isil. ..